The Opportunity in Cute UI

cute_hero_v2 copy

A day ago I was listening in on a live support call from a customer out in Texas. He had a really friendly, appreciative attitude and thanked us for the assistance – but before he logged off he said something that stuck with me all night:

“Oh, that’s cute.”

Now, we’ll take all the praise we can get. It’s just that Roadmunk support teams typically hear words like “helpful”, or “smart” or “cool”. But cute was a first. This blog post is all about how that introduced us to a great opportunity.

What was so cute, exactly?

No, this isn’t the furry-fluffy kind of cute. Sorry, cute baby seal.

Awwww baby seal
Photo: thecutestofthecute.tumblr.com

Believe it or not, he was referring to our legend modal on the right-side of the Roadmunk timeline view. It was just a coincidence that he noticed and commented on this feature. It might even be the first time you’ve seen it too. (It’s been there since our colors update.) We’re not surprised some users missed it, and that’s important.

cute hidden modal
Not the most obvious of UI elements, is it

What did cute mean from a user’s experience? We dug around a bit to find out. We uncovered threads from other support cases that had similar language, and they all had the same few themes.

The elements of cute UI

Some data mining revealed common themes from our sample support cases. Users who were responding using language like “neat”, “handy” and “convenient” had the same characteristics:

  1. they discovered something new during the support call
  2. they were pleasantly surprised by what they learned
  3. the feature or item would be useful to them in some way

And more often than not, the feature in question wasn’t the intended topic of the call in the first place. It was a happy accident. We wanted find more of these.

How do we identify these features? We narrowed down the following criteria:

  • the feature’s UI is unobtrusive
  • the feature is pleasantly helpful
  • the feature is not frequently utilized
cute ui elements doggie door
Some features pack massive value into a small container. Source: Reddit

By this logic, there are limitless cute features within the Roadmunk app when we consider how unique our users are. We’ve seen some outrageously-creative use cases for Roadmunk roadmaps, and we know our users all build roadmaps differently. That means there are different under-utilized, helpful features for every user.

How you can find value for your app

From this experiment we concluded that there’s opportunity in cute UI. A feature that meets the cute criteria is probably worth a look by a PM. Is it being under-utilized? Look for the clues:

  • are useful features hard to access?
  • is there hidden potential in simple UI elements?
  • have a handful of users reacted positively to these features in the past?
  • does your support team frequently offer this feature as a solution?

Tip: ask your support teams for any insight into features that frequently but discreetly solve customer problems. 

Plan to be adorable

There are different under-utilized, helpful features for every user

Product managers can capitalize on cute feature opportunities: planning ahead making useful UI elements more prominent, combining items, shifting divs, etc. Balancing new UI opportunities alongside planned feature releases is a challenge solved by the product roadmap. We’ve example feature release roadmap templates available if you need a foundation to start from. From all of us here at Roadmunk, plan happy everyone.

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